Ireland’s New ‘Farming for Water’ Project To Offer Up To €10,000 For Individual Farmers

farming for water

Ireland’s New ‘Farming for Water’ Project To Offer Up To €10,000 For Individual Farmers

Ireland’s ‘Farming for Water’ project launched just two months ago. Its goal is to improve the quality of Irish water. Rivers, lakes, and other water bodies are at the heart of Ireland’s charming environment. Improving the quality of these waters is crucial to protect nature, wildlife, and public health. So, let’s discuss the details and aims of the newly launched project. 


What is the ‘Farming for Water’ Project?

The project was started by the Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) along with Teagasc and Dairy Industry Ireland. It’s a WATER European Innovation Partnership (EIP) initiative, the largest in Ireland to date. The project was launched on March 7th, 2024, and will run until 2028. As mentioned, the main aim is to improve water quality all over Ireland.


Where is the Funding Coming From?

The €60 million EIP scheme is receiving funding from departments of the Irish government. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will give €50 million over five years to support farmers. The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage will add €10 million for operational expenses. The initiative could involve up to 15,000 farmers, with measures tailored to address local water quality challenges. Depending on the uptake, support for individual farmers could potentially hit €10,000.


What are the specific aims of the ‘Farming for Water’ Project?

The project will reduce the amount of sediment, pesticides, and nutrients that enter water bodies from farms. Nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen can lead to algae growth, reducing water oxygen levels and threatening aquatic life. Currently, there is too much nitrate in 40% of rivers and excessive phosphorus levels in 35% of lakes across Ireland. Concentrations must be reduced in these rivers and lakes to improve water quality. This EIP scheme aims to tackle this issue. 


What Measures Might Be Put In Place?

Measures focusing on farm and land management challenges will be available to improve water quality. Below are some of the measures available:

  •       Hedgerow and tree planting
  •       Additional fencing for bovine exclusion from water bodies
  •       Alternative water supply (e.g. solar pump)
  •       Sediment traps
  •       Watercourse crossing/bridges
  •       Pesticide mitigation measures


A Farm’s Success Story for Improving Water Quality

In March, the ‘Farming for Water’ project was launched at a farm in Westmeath owned by Róisín and David Fay. The Fay farm was chosen as the launch site because it’s a great example of how small changes can yield significant results. On their farm, the Fays installed a solar pump to draw water from the nearby river for their cows instead of letting them drink from the river directly. This change has led to better quality river water for everyone’s benefit. Similar measures taken across Ireland, proposed by the ‘Farming for Water’ project, could make a big difference. 


Conclusion for Ireland’s ‘Farming for Water’ Project

Good water quality improves access to clean drinking water for us and livestock. Clean waters also support tourism and recreation while protecting wildlife. With this project, there is potential to improve Irish water quality by giving farmers the resources to address local challenges. Interested farmers are encouraged to consult their Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP) advisers for further information. 


Learn about the benefits of water quality monitoring for different businesses here!

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